Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office sought data from the Texas Department of Public Safety in an effort to identify transgender individuals in the state, according to a report from The Washington Post.
The department reportedly received a request in June from the attorney general’s office regarding information on Texans who had changed their gender on their drivers licenses or in other government records within the past two years.
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An internal email reviewed by the Post described the scope of the request. “Need total number of changes from male to female and female to male for the last 24 months, broken down by month,” the Texas DPS driver license division chief wrote in a June email. “We won’t need DL/ID numbers at first but may need to have them later if we are required to manually look up documents.”
The department ultimately concluded that the data could not be “accurately produced” and did not provide any materials to the attorney general. While it’s unclear why exactly Paxton sought the information, the request itself is more than a little concerning given how the state has been doing everything it can to make life miserable for trans people.
In February, Republican Governor Greg Abbott issued a directive to state agencies instructing them to investigate the use of gender affirming care and resources by minors as a potential form of child abuse. The directive was backed by Paxton, who days before had declared gender affirming surgery and the use of puberty blockers for individuals under the age of 18 a form of child abuse under Texas law. Abbott’s directive was placed under temporary injunction, a decision which Paxton has appealed to the state’s Supreme Court.
In a preview of what may be coming in the future, a slew of bills targeting transgender Texans were filed in the first round of legislative submissions for the state Senate’s 2023 session. Members of the Texas legislature are looking to ban everything from gender affirming care for minors, to drag shows, to instruction on gender nonconformity in schools.
“Today’s story out of Texas is chilling,” Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement provided to Rolling Stone. “Weaponizing state agencies and their public records to pinpoint and single out transgender Texans is terrifying, albeit not shocking. Throughout 2022, Attorney General Paxton, along with Governor Abbott, have stopped at nothing to attack the very existence of transgender youth and adults. This development shows how far they’re willing to go in discriminating against transgender people.”
Texas is not alone. More than a dozen states have attempted and succeeded in passing laws restricting the rights and freedom. These include “bathroom bills,” bills banning instruction on LGBTQ+ identity and relationships, transgender participation in sports, and bills restricting the access of transgender individuals to life saving medical care.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health standards advises against gender affirming surgery for children and adolescents. Instead, medical standards recommend supportive care alongside work with a mental health professional for young children, and continued supportive care with the option to explore the use of puberty blockers for adolescents under the guidance of medical professionals. Despite the extreme rarity of surgical procedures amongst transgender minors, conservatives have spun up false narratives alleging brutal child mutilations and psychological grooming are both common and an intentional tactic by the LGBTQ+ community to increase their numbers and influence.
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